We’ve talked about the idea of a hybrid motorcycle here before, and the consensus of opinion is that it wouldn’t really work, not with today’s technology. But Kawasaki think that it can, with tomorrow’s technology, anyway. That’s why they’ve just revealed a prototype model sporting some very interesting hybrid technology.
This has come as part of a bigger announcement from Kawasaki. An announcement in which they have talked about their future plans to help save the earth. They’ve said that by 2025, they’ll have over ten electric and hybrid motorcycles in their showrooms (some of which will be off-road bikes); and by 2035, all of their major models (in developed markets), will be fully electric or hybrid.
In fact by 2025, we’re told Kawasaki will be launching an average of 16 new models a year.
Anyway, we haven’t had a lot of details about the specifics of Kawasaki’s hybrid prototype motorcycle but we do know a few bits. The engine looks to be from a Ninja 400 and there’s a big electric motor above the gearbox. The electric motor is water cooled with a little radiator below the main one. There are two batteries, a small 12V one to power the engines electronics, and a larger 48V one to power the electric motor. I say larger one, its actually quite small as far as electric bikes go, but it’s only really there to boost the power of the main engine, or provide a bit of silent thrust, if you’re cruising around at city speeds.
Something else cool about the hybrid prototype is the gearbox. It’s got a semi-automatic transmission, operated by a button on the left-hand switchgear. Kawasaki’s all-electric prototype, funnily enough, has a manual gearbox, which is rather peculiar for an electric bike; but not totally unheard of.
Track and trace
There is also talk of having a GPS enabled geolocation device, which will know when you are in a zero emissions zone, and only let you have battery power. Which is kinda neat.
I don’t know how long it is going to be before hybrid, or fully electric bikes are the norm. They’re certainly not good enough yet, to tempt me over to the green side. But it’s only a matter of time, so I can see why Kawasaki want to get ahead of the curve. Watch this space.